Rev. Dr. Mike Gibson - Pacific Southwest District President
Dr. Gibson was elected as President of the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri in 2018. His 37 years of pastoral ministry includes Redeemer Lutheran Church, Huntington Beach, CA (1984-1987) and Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Milpitas, CA (1987-2006), and Christ Lutheran Church and School, Costa Mesa, CA (2006-2018). He is a 1984 Master of Divinity graduate from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO and was awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1996 from Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA, in organizational pathology and leadership.
Mike has been engaged globally in China, Southeast Asia, and India for almost 20 years. His missional passion includes helping the Body of Christ understand the shift of Christianity to the Global South and the beneficial influence that the Global South can bring to the church in the post-Christian Global North.
Mike was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. He and Kathy were married in 1979. Kathy works at Concordia University Irvine as Assistant Director of Advancement Services. The Gibsons have two adult sons, Andrew and Tim.
Dr. Joel Oesch - Plenary Bible Study Leader
Dr. Oesch holds a PhD from Concordia Seminary and is a graduate of Yale University. He is Director of the Graduate Programs in Theology. Professor Oesch served as Director of Christian Education for 10 years. His research interests are embodied theology, the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and contemporary culture. Joel is also the creator and Director of The Crosswise Institute of Concordia University Irvine which endeavors to engage high school students in meaningful dialogue on contemporary cultural issues that challenge their worldview and that calls them from comfort to something risky, but rewarding. Together, students are invited to develop their ideas, refine their thinking, and examine how the church community might respond to current and relevant topics as informed by Scripture. Ultimately, we want to bring these conversations to bear on the real lives of friends and neighbors as students go out with a thoughtful Christian perspective on current events, ethical concerns, and social trends. Joel has served Concordia since 2012.
Rev. Dr. Tim Ahlman - “You are Not Alone nor Stuck: Discover, Develop and Deploy YOUR Lay Leaders”
Dr. Ahlman is one of the pastors at Christ Greenfield Gilbert, AZ. (christgreenfield.church) Tim has been married to Alexa for 17 years and they have three children – Adalyn (14), Malachi (13) and Nyleah (12). Tim has served at Christ Greenfield for 8 years. Jesus has transformed the Christ Greenfield family of ministries to have a voracious passion for discipleship multiplication. This passion is best displayed on their two campuses (Gilbert and East Mesa), La Mesa Resource Center (lamesaministries.org), school (Pre-K – 8th grade) and through the Unite Leadership Collective (uniteleadership.org). Tim just completed his doctoral thesis that focused on the traits and characteristics of pastors who collaborate in mission. Tim boldly believes pastors and churches are simply better when they work together.
Rev. Brian Barlow - "Engaging LGBTQ"
Having been called out of a gender broken identity, Vicar Brian Barlow has invested over 20 years in ministry to those who struggle with relational and sexual brokenness. His role as regional director for a para ministry in the Pacific Southwest, offers a voice of hope to the gender broken, pastors, church leaders, and parents of gay and transgender children.
Rev. Dr. Glenn Fluegge - "Engaging Cross Culturally"
Rev. Dr. Glenn Fluegge currently serves as professor of theology at Concordia University Irvine, CA and also director of the Cross-cultural Ministry Center (CMC), a seminary program that forms missionary pastors and church leaders for culture-crossing ministries in the United States and throughout the world. Prior to coming to Concordia he and his wife, Susan, were called to Togo from 1998–2009, where Glenn served as lecturer and director of the Centre Luthérien d’Etudes Théologiques, an international seminary that trains pastors and church leaders for churches throughout Francophone Africa. He also served in Pretoria, South Africa as lecturer at the Lutheran Theological Seminary from 2009–2012. Glenn received his M.Div. from Concordia Seminary (2000), a M.S. in Education from Capella University (2008), and a Ph.D. in Theology (Church History) from the University of Pretoria in South Africa (2015). Glenn is passionate about learning from other cultures and together growing in our understanding of the interconnection between Christian theology, missiology, culture, and theological education. When not teaching, writing, or traveling, you might find Glenn somewhere in the outdoors hiking, backpacking, or camping with his wife and five children.
Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa - “Engaging with The Word in a Changed World”
Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa, M-Div. (CTS Fort Wayne, IN), M.A. Christian Apologetics (Biola University, La Mirada, CA), and Ph.D. Theology on American Evangelicalism's apocalyptic influence on American politics and Christianity (University of Birmingham, England). He is the senior pastor at Saint Paul's Lutheran Church, Irvine. He was on the study notes team for The Lutheran Study Bible and wrote on christology and creation in The Lutheran Difference. He was the drafter of the CTCR 2018 Confession and Absolution especially as a resource for pastors themselves so that pastors would have pastors to care for them. He authored the book Faith That Sees Through the Culture (CPH, 2018) and Faith That Engages the Culture (CPH, 2021). Other published works include C.F.W. Walter's teaching on sanctification, mercy as the nature of God, Luther's christology, apologetics as pastoral ministry, and nursing as ministry. He serves on the LCMS board for national mission and spearheads policy specifically for defending and equipping marriage, life, and family. This fall he is teaching "Christian Witness and Evangelism" at Concordia University Irvine where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses for about 18 years. He and Traci have been married for 34 years and are blessed with lots of children and grandchildren (and a pug). He practices taekwondo just for kicks.
Rev. Nader Hanna - "Why Muslims? Why Now?"
Rev. Nader Hanna was born and raised in Egypt, a Muslim Arabic speaking country and currently lives in Huntington Beach, CA. He is a mission partner with Mission of Christ Network (MCN). Nader helps launch disciple-making movements among unreached people groups living among us, helps churches know more about cross-cultural ministry, and how to reach Middle Easterners in their communities with the message of God’s love and salvation in Christ Jesus. Nader servers as the Associate Pastor for Missions at Faith Lutheran Church, Huntington Beach and is a mission partner with Mission of Christ Network (MCN).
Rev. Dominic Rivkin “Congregations Partnerships that Work: A Panel Discussion with Real Practitioners"
Rev. Rivkin currently serves as the Mission and Ministry Executive for the Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS. Rev. Rivkin was the founding pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Temecula CA and the urban mission development agency LINC Los Angeles. Pastor Rivkin and his wife Cassie live in Los Angeles and enjoy spending time engaging in outdoor adventures as part of their personal ministry of mentoring young adults in the city.
Rev. Dr. Scott Seidler and John Karolus - “Analog Savior, Digital Mission”
Rev. Dr. Scott Seidler serves as lead pastor at Shepherd, Scottsdale, having served three prior parishes from smaller to very larger in size in Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri. He has served as an adjunct instructor in Practical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and at Grand Canyon University in partnership with the Garuna Foundation for education in Southeast Asia. Married to Renee for 25 years, they have three children, two Siamese cats and a mutant Labradoodle. When not in ministry, Scott golfs.
John Karolus serves as Director of Digital Mission at Shepherd, Scottsdale, and supports the pastoral staff in preaching, student and family ministry, and continues to captain their online outreach effort. A 2020 graduate of Concordia Seminary, John began his work with Shepherd in January of 2021. Having served across a variety of church and cultural contexts, and with missions experience in Guatemala, learning to adapt and share the Gospel in new ways is a joy and pursuit of John's. In his off time, John travels, runs, and eats.